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Posted at 8:12 AM ET, 03/10/2011

'U.N.' intervention in the Arab world

By Anne Applebaum

One more response to Charles Krauthammer, as well as to Bob Kagan and Reuel Marc Gerecht:

Of course a "U.N." no-fly zone would really be a U.S. one -- but that's precisely the point. Everyone is nervous about the use of U.S. force and U.S. money in the region, even those who are sympathetic to democratic and American values. That's why any form of U.S. intervention will be disguised as something else.

Bob and Reuel: I do realize that queasiness about America in the Arab world is related to many things, including America's long-standing, deeply corrupting and profoundly cynical support for Arab dictators -- support that has come equally from Democratic and Republican administrations, over many years. But the Iraq war didn't, in this sense, make things any better. I believe very strongly in America's capacity for democracy promotion, but I don't see how it's possible to argue that the Iraq war was a good precedent.

By Anne Applebaum  | March 10, 2011; 8:12 AM ET
Categories:  Applebaum  | Tags:  Anne Applebaum  
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Of course Iraq was a GREAT precedent! Look what we can point to:

1. Rice announced the results of the first election before the votes were counted!

2. There were only a few hundred thousand deaths (then again we don't REALLY consider them people, do we?)

3. There were only about 5 million refugees, who still cannot return (and we certainly don't want them here)!

4. We destroyed only about a couple of communities that have existed for thousands of years (including the Christians, btw).

5. The level of violence is now WAY lower than at its peak (since we invaded).

If this is not success, what is? How could anyone want to avoid that?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | March 10, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse


I couldn't agree with you more on this one. If we go into Libya, we'd have to stay until there's a stable government set up as we're trying to do in Iraq & Afghanistan. We all know how lovely that's working out for us: 4,000 dead US soldiers, 30,000 more wounded, $1.5 trillion dollars, etc, etc.

This kind of interventionist foreign policy will have us fighting in wars until the end of time, as many on Capital Hill would like.

Europe is the wealthiest continent in the world. It's time they built up their own military to protect their own interests, and stop relying on the USA.

Posted by: Daniel1982 | March 10, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

It now looks more likely than not that the Obama administration, cheered on by commentators like Ms. Applebaum, will ultimately hand-wring its way to doing nothing regarding Libya, thereby permitting a brutal, wounded and enraged Gaddafi to regain power.

My hunch is that this cold, calculating, dithering, masquerading as caution, will be seen in retrospect as having been the equivalent of issuing an open invitation to industrial scale slaughter, a many-month "Killing Fields" spectacle on YouTube. A "You bet your administration" mistake.

The least bad option is making certain that the mad dog now out of control can no longer bite anyone, but the window for doing this cheaply is closing quickly. Concrete action, as opposed to verbal action, ought to have been taken when the momentum was still against Gaddafi.

Posted by: clc2clc2 | March 10, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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